Category Archives: In Your Words

Here is where you get to have YOUR SAY! post pics, stories and even topic ideas so that we can get to know one another better as we take this journey.

One Size Fits All…but does it?

Recently I was sitting in a dance concert recently watching a piece, which was almost completely in unison. Now, in today’s world of contemporary dance the idea of unison (especially for long segments of time) is often considered trite, predictable, or old fashioned. As I watched the piece (which was also very slow) I was struck by how moved I was at seeing a mass move in exact unison. The oneness was soothing not only my eye, but to something deeper within me, not quite as deep as the soul, but it touched my innate humanity, that part of us that seeks to belong, to be a part of and identify to tribe. It is the thing that creates recognition, and sameness in ourselves and others. The desire for recognition is that animal instinct that informs us that “You are not an enemy, not a predator but one of us, I do not have to fear you”. Though the piece was very simple in it’s movement vocabulary, having danced in a corps de ballet, I know how difficult it is to stay in time with a group of people. Though there are counts to help everyone stay together, there is a deeper more visceral connection that happens when people have the intention of staying together, you have feel. There is a submission of the individual and the absorption into the collective, larger entity. This is the essence of the concept of the Corps de Ballet- the Body of the ballet, and we are one. In dance there is that idea of physical uniformity, where the size, shapes, forms of individuals need to match to create a visual harmony for the viewer. There are dance works that require dancers to where the identical costumes, hair and make-up, rendering the bodies on stage virtually indistinguishable from each other, thereby erasing the individual.

 

This idea appeals to us because as human beings we have a need to be a part of the collective, while also needing to stand apart. It is not so much the desire for separatism, but the desire to maintain our individuality. This is the duplicity of human nature; we so vigilantly defend our individuality yet we have this innate need and desire to be one with the tribe. The key is to fit in, but stand out just enough. In a sense I see the same principle with the body, and fashion in the real world. There is that desire for uniformity, sameness, and blending. Take for instance the concept of One Size Fits All…

 

 

There is something so inclusive and egalitarian about that phrase. There is something about the concept that one thing, can serve all people in the same way. It implies a type of uniformity and balance that is required in the human psyche to feel ok, safe. As lovely as it might *sound and as altruistic the concept might be the reality of it being achievable is virtually impossible. “One Size”, may fit many or even most but it will never fit all, and those who fall outside of that scale of “All” where do they belong? What does that say about them and where they fit? Therein lies the problem.

The concept of One Size may seem to be a frivolous topic when talking about fashion, you say, “ So chose another designer, a different style or cut, what’s the big deal?” And generally I would agree with you, however it is not only the concept, that I am scrutinizing, but also the language and the mentality behind words. To imply that we as human beings can so simplistically be diminished to a banal level of sameness based on a common structure (one spine two are, two legs, etc) is absurd. If you transfer the concept of sameness to something like education or medicine it starts to look vastly different and potentially harmful. Where the foundational elements of learning are Universal (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic) it has been proven that children learn not only at different paces, but also in different ways. Today we would never think of presenting such a narrow approach to the education of young people, mainly because it is ineffective.  If we think of the concept of medicine, which though a science is really a the categorization and grouping of symptoms that add up to a particular ailment that have things in common, there is not really *one way to treat ailments, there is almost always a tailoring of treatment to match the patient.

 

So why does society try to treat the body and beauty (in terms of form) with uniformity? It seems silly but in truth it can be just as detrimental as treating illness with a broad stroke. Then there is the idea of separation, full figure, big and tall clothing lines, these labels create a sense of “otherness” in the people who fall in to this category. It, whether designed to or not creates exclusion. It could be considered tantamount to the educational idea of “separate but equal” and we know how that ended. I know that creating categories are ways of marketing and merchandizing that makes it easier to serve consumers and that is understandable but the stigma attached to people who don’t fit into the “One Size” of the norm can leave them feeling ostracized. Something must be “wrong” with you if you don’t fit.

 

I find the inescapable contradictions of human beings infinitely interesting. While we strive to be a part of the group there is something within us that wants, needs to be identified as different, individual, perhaps this is one of the things that makes us different from other animals. As sophisticated as we are, we have not yet (as a society and as individuals) learned how to negotiate the reality of the principles of sameness and otherness occupying the same space. There is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of “One Size Fits All” albeit when it is used against people who do not fall in to that category this is when it becomes a problem. Everything is copasetic until you are not a part of the “all”.

 

There is a beauty in uniformity, there is a harmony and balance that resonates with us on a visceral level and that is very real. When we see a forest of trees, a field of sunflowers, it moves us, homogeny in the human race, or culture as a similar effect, but we have to be able to accept, appreciate, respect AND include things that are different. A snow covered ground is one of the most beautiful things, though made up of individual snowflakes the beauty is the togetherness of the flakes, and we all know, and are still awed by the fact that each flake is singular as are we. One size is just that, One Size and that’s ALL!

Just a thought…

Jessica Danser- Schwarz’s Pedicure Peeves

As summer comes slowly to a close, contributing writer Jessica Danser- Schwarz shares with her her disdain for toe nail polish and what has become a seemingly obligatory beauty ritual.

 

It never fails, every summer, to reach a peak of irritation, where I’m annoyed by it every day. It isn’t the heat, the humidity, or even the New York tourists. It’s toenail polish.

I was a typical female American teenager, slathering myself with a prodigious number of beauty products before deigning to be seen in public, but there were a few entities which continually pushed me in a different philosophical direction where beauty was concerned. One was my mother, who wears minimal makeup, and who set a LOT of boundaries about the age at which and the settings during which I was allowed to wear makeup. She was also very upfront about telling me that shellacking my face with cover-up would clog my pores and make my skin worse, wearing nail polish incessantly would make my nails weak and brittle, and that loads of hair gel was making my dandruff problem worse. She also refused to give me money to do things like get my nails done unless it was, like, the prom. (I’m pretty sure my mother has never had a professional manicure or pedicure, ever.) Although she had a few beauty vices of her own, such as dying her hair, the predominant message given to me at home was health first, and that natural beauty was best.

This is in sharp contrast to many of the young girls I teach now whose mothers seem to view beautification as an indoctrination best introduced early, girls who will argue with me fiercely when I tell them they have to remove their jewelry and put their hair up for dance class. I have had girls as young as 11 tell me they and their moms go together to get their legs waxed. One mother of a spirited 6 year old tomboy lamented an upsurge of “beauty parlor parties” for elementary-aged girls, where instead of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, the girls were “treated” to a full makeover: nail polish, full makeup, hair in curlers– not girlishy played with out of mom’s makeup, but administered by a professional beautician. “She hates this stuff,” said the mom, “but so many of the other mothers are throwing these parties I’m afraid she won’t have any friends if she doesn’t participate.”

The second influence was ballet. I had a strict, traditional Vagonova ballet teacher who had extremely clear limits on our appearance. Jewelry, fancy hairdos, and accessories were absolutely not tolerated under any circumstances in class, rehearsal, or performance. Stage makeup was to be identical to everyone else’s stage makeup and was not to include things such as bright blue eyeshadow or copious amounts of glitter. When my friends and I started to experiment with press-on nail extensions, those, too, were rapidly voted off the island. Her explanation: “It breaks your lines.” The message was very clear here, too: our beauty was to be found in our WORK, not merely our physical appearances. The gorgeousness of our dancing was in our movements, our precision, our performance and our spirit, not our fancy outfits, hairdos, or accoutrements.

Still and all I rocked the classic 90s- girl look from about age 12-16, to the extent I could get away with it, black eyeliner, dark lip liner framing light lip gloss, up-do piled on top of my head with a million hanging curly tendrils, doorknocker earrings, and I refused to go to school or any social event without all of it. I was afraid of ever letting a boy see my natural appearance, certain he would reject it. I actually remember wondering how I was going to manage to prevent my future husband from seeing me makeup-less when I grew up and lived with a mate. It was more than a little ridiculous. I was wearing a mask almost 24 hours a day, assuming that if people saw the way I actually looked it would be deemed inadequate (small wonder I felt this way, since all of the most “popular” girls were also the most precociously accessorized), and not even considering the possibility I might be liked for my intelligence and personality. The worst of it was that when I looked at my own naked face in the mirror, I no longer liked it.

A huge breakthrough happened one night when my new high school best friend came to spend the night at my house in the 9th grade. Right before we went to bed, after I had washed up to sleep, she caught a glimpse of my bare, makeupless face, wearing glasses, my hair pulled back in a simple ponytail. “Jessica… You’re BEAUTIFUL! Why on earth do you wear all that mess to school?”

My reaction to her comment wasn’t instantaneous, but it stuck in my head for a really long time. Gradually I started to tone down how much makeup I wore to school, and as I got more serious about ballet, the inconvenience of having to dismantle my banquet-worthy up-do every day for class started to wear thin. I realized that, as my mom had predicted, my skin was clearer and my hair was healthier when I wasn’t glomming goops all over myself every day. My cheap doorknocker earrings gave me an infection one time too many and I finally let my holes close.

I don’t recall exactly when, but one day around age 16 I made a decision: I would never, ever wear makeup ever again except for performance or photo shoots, and I would never paint my nails or re-pierce my ears ever for the rest of my life. I think a little eyeliner may have popped up for my senior prom, but beyond that I have, for over ten years, stuck to that resolution. I did not wear a stitch of makeup to my own wedding. And my husband was perfectly happy to say “I do” to the same natural face he would be looking at for the rest of his life.

It was an extreme and inflexible decision, to be sure, but ironically one of the things that kept my resolve was the amount of critique and incredulity I met from other women when I began on this new path. I try not to be judgmental of other women who chose to decorate themselves, but if I often feel that merely vocalizing my decision not to partake offends people and renders me some sort of weirdo or even, not a “real” woman. I have felt like that little 6 year old, shunned by her peers due to her aversion to “beauty parties,” so many times that my stalwart stance has become a bit defiant in nature.

I have gotten ONE pedicure my entire life, under duress before my cousin’s wedding when I was about 15. Even at that age I was cognizant that I had built up callouses from dancing which would have to be painfully developed again, and I begged the pedicurist, please, please, no pumice stone, don’t even touch the soles of my feet. She had no concept at all of what I was asking for or why and basically wrecked my feet. I felt angry and invaded. But there was something deeper than dance going on here, and it is that deeper outrage which starts to get under my skin after 2 summer months of seeing almost every single woman I encounter with elaborately decorated toenails. Why was it necessary for me to get my toenails painted in order to be a bridesmaid? Wasn’t my presence, my love for my cousin, my lovely dress good enough?

Feet are for walking, running, jumping, dancing, standing, climbing, balancing, kicking. They are a source of power. My relationship to my feet is very strong because of dance, and I love the look of my muscular, weathered, calloused feet. The natural look of my feet is a source of pride for me not only as a dancer, but as a woman. And seeing countless other women who doubtlessly use their bodies for amazing, productive things, reducing their feet to decorative objects bothers me, in the same way that advertisements which reduce women to decorative objects instead of people also bother me. Perhaps for some women the choice to decorate is a very personal and deliberate one, one which comes from a celebration of their beauty. But I imagine for many it is coming from an external societal pressure, based on relentless advertising educating us that airbrushed, heavily made-up, perfectly coiffed women are the ideal standard of beauty, and internal social pressures, such as those I feel when other women look at me like an alien when I mention I don’t like pedicures, or those I feel when I realize I am the only female on a subway car with sandals and unpainted toes. I am not condemning those who wish to decorate, but simply asking those who do to take a moment and ask themselves why? Are the decorations an extension of your own beauty, or a cover-up of things about yourself you find inadequate? When you spend time and money on beauty products, are you really “treating” yourself, or do you feel obligated to participate in these rituals?

Most people, especially in our society, have some sort of aesthetic routine around their appearance. But while a man may shave, comb his hair, and pick out a snazzy outfit, I know few men who spend even a fraction of the amount of time and money the average woman does on her physical appearance. When I see a woman with every inch of her being elaborately decorated, especially in a casual setting, I can’t help but wonder what other use her time, attention, and money could have been spent on besides her appearance. I know that when I changed my grooming habits as a young person it opened up not only more time, but more mental space for more productive, meaningful, and satisfying pursuits. It also changed my attitude towards myself from one of perpetual critique, disguising, and “fixing,” to one of greater acceptance and appreciation of all of my natural gifts, physical, intellectual, creative, and spiritual. Physical decoration is certainly not unique to our society. Indigenous cultures have a host of body decoration and modification rituals. It is an ancient human societal entity. However, what bothers me about it in our society is the extent to which it is a heavily advertised commercial field, urging us to pour loads of money and attention into our appearances; the fact that, unlike in many indigenous cultures, there is a HUGE inequality between the standards for men and those for women, rendering the women objects d’art whilst the men have few decorative requirements; and the fact that in a society which gives so much lip service to individuality, so much conformity around appearance is encouraged.

When I visited Trinidad last summer, I was refreshed and impressed to see that the majority of women in casual settings were dressed simply and comfortably and without any makeup or decoration. I did see women in more formal settings with a bit more accessorizing, but it was not over the top, nor was it the daily norm. The women I saw seemed relaxed and comfortable with their bodies, and far too involved with their tasks of farming, fishing, cooking, caring for their children, eating, swimming, dancing, and laughing to waste a lot of time staring in the mirror. And I felt way more comfortable around them than I ever do around American women. With these strangers from another culture, I felt an immediate sisterhood. No one was wearing a mask to shut me out.

It isn’t that I’m bothered that women wear toenail polish, I’m bothered when observation would lead me to conclude that ALL women in New York seem to now wear it every single day, as if it were a regimented requirement. And I’m bothered by how heavily the topic seems to come up in conversation and how much “getting a mani-pedi” seems to be a prime social activity among women friends. It makes me feel sometimes like I have abandon one of the beliefs I’m most proud of to fit in with other women. As silly as this may seem, toenail polish makes me feel lonely.

I would like to meet more women with rough, calloused hands and feet. Women whose bodies don’t hide the work they do. Women with ink-stained hands from writing poetry, dirty fingernails from planting vegetables, strong blistered feet from running and walking and dancing. These women, like my dear friend back from high school, might find me beautiful. But we would have so many other things to talk about it wouldn’t even matter.

IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY WE ARE 1 YEAR OLD!!!

A year ago today I launched My Body My Image. It was a heartfelt project stemming both from my personal struggles and the struggles of the many young dancers I encountered through my years of teaching. Personally I thought that I was on to something, but when we are in our heads we always do! It wasn’t until there was an outpouring of support for the site from friends, and people who just stumbled upon it, and their positive feedback and encouragement that I knew for certain that this was needed. I want to thank all the people who contributed this year:

Natalie, Courtnay, Jenny, Jessica, and Makeda, your voices have added knowledge and a voices to the forum, and helped all that read your work and I look forward to working with you more in the future.

I’d like the thank Christopher Mack of Mack Digital for designing the sight and keeping us up and running!!!

I’d like to thank April Megan, Robert Garland, my Bikram HarlemYoga Family and Linda Denise Fisher- Harrell, for her early support, you all helped me so much in the very beginning, Thank you

To date we have had 58,466 hits and the hits keep coming.

I am so happy and proud and look forward to bringing you more in the future!!

Theresa Ruth Howard

Join our Facebook fan page! I am trying to reach 365 fans by midnight

My Life Dealing with Injury

Intern Makeda Roney shares her very personal story about battling injury as a young student. As a teacher I have never seen so many injuries in young dancers as I have of late and serious ones at that! Makeda shares not only her physical ordeal but how that effects not only her body bit her self confidence, her mind and spirit. This is a very honest telling of one young dancer’s journey to get to a point where she dance with abandon, and free of pain.

I have been dancing seriously for about 4 years and every year (since 2008) I have been dealing with a non-stop series of injuries. My series started off with Achilles tendinitis, in 2007,which made it unable for me to perform in Dance Theater of Harlem’s June performance. In 2008, I was diagnosed with underdeveloped calves. That answered the reason why it was so painful to do jumps in dance class. I was given exercises to do everyday and was not allowed to jump in dance class until my calves were fully developed. In the beginning of the summer in 2009, I experienced serious pain in my toes while dancing on Pointe and when I went to the doctor, they diagnosed me with stress fractures in both of my second metatarsals. I was told to stop dancing for the rest of the summer. When I heard this I felt angry and sad at the same time. I had mixed emotions because I had so many goals that I was tying to achieve that summer, and I felt like even after the first 2 weeks of the program, I was already start to work towards them. Not to mention my body changes a lot when I’m not dancing. I loose muscle and flexibility and if I am not conscious about my diet, I can gain a lot of  weight. Having to dealing with all of that is very frustrating, because it makes it harder to get back in shape after the injury is healed and it feels like I have to re-learn how to dance all over again. Of course, my muscle memory takes over so of course when go back to class, so I don’t have to start at beginning level again, but there are certainly things that I can’t do in class anymore due to my loss of muscle so that’s frustrating.

During the year of 2009, I got better and felt fantastic dancing but as the year went on and Nutcracker season started, I got pain in my toes again. I was told by my teachers to stop dancing until I got another x ray. By the time I did, Nutcracker season was over and once again I didn’t get to perform. The x ray showed that I had scar tissue from my stress fractures and that’s why I was experiencing toe pain again. In 2010, I strained my left groin muscle. I was unable to dance and perform during the months of April, May and June.

I thought I was finally was getting away from my “injury curse”,  I managed to stay healthy during the summer, fall and winter of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. I got accepted into The Ailey school for the second semester with a fellowship in 2011 and I felt accomplished. When I started at The Ailey school, my body felt good, I worked really hard and was improving so much. I felt like things were really starting to look up. Then all hope was gone because in May 2011 I started having serious sacrum pain, I couldn’t walk, sit or do any actions without pain. It got so bad that yet again couldn’t perform for the Ailey School end of the year performance.  I stopped dancing for 2 months to heal so I could start The Ailey Summer Intensive healthy. To rejuvenate my body, I didn’t do anything active. I stayed home for most of those 2 months. I found myself sleeping a lot,  it was very frustrating because I was so bored. I could have found things to entertain myself but I refused to do anything. It was like I was sulking and punishing  myself. I missed dancing so much that all I could do was think about it and nothing else. I was very miserable and cried a lot. The one thing that got me through this situation was watching stand up comedies.

Now  I am back and dancing full time this summer and slowly trying to get myself back to business, but unfortunately, I have started to get a lot of lower back pain. I am trying to deal with this injury without having to take off from dance once again, and so far it is very challenging. It is difficult because it is painful to do certain steps and positions in class and sometimes I have to rest, so my back wont get over worked. I have good days and bad days, like everyone else. Sometimes I can take all my classes without any pain and sometimes I can only take just barre of ballet. There are some classes this summer that get me really frustrated like Gyrokenisis because while Gyro is supposed to help and ease your back, but it is hurting mine like crazy. So it is hard for me to even take that full class without feeling pain. Add to that, while I am dancing I have to be really cautious I have to think about everything I do – because I am re-training. It gets complicated because I the classes are challenging and I have to work slowly and consciously. Doing that in a fast paced class is not easy, although, I am getting better at it. I am re-teaching my body to dance with correct alignment and doing physical therapy exercises, to strengthen my weak muscles, so I can prevent more injuries from happening. I feel like if I take this time with my body and rest to the fullest during the weekends, I will slowly get back to being fully healthy.

Dealing with so many consecutive injuries for the past 3-4 years has been very frustrating for me. I know that being a dancer, I am going to have to deal with them but I would have never thought that I’d have to deal with them at such and early age. I figured that as professional dancer I would experience injuries but not as a student, but I guess I was wrong. There was a point where I felt really sad and I cried almost everyday because it hurt so much to look around and see other dancers my age taking class all the time and performing with out pain, or only getting one quick injury that lasts them a week tops and then they are back in the swing of things, I think “Why can’t I be that way?”. My mother (a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher) told me that when she was younger she never dealt with so many injuries and taking time off to heal because of them, so I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, or maybe I wasn’t meant to dance. But I couldn’t quit! It is my passion and I cannot live my life without it, so as time passes and I get older, I make myself stop sulking about my injuries. I am changing my mind set and thoughts and working to see the positive aspect of my situation. I mean I could definitely say that having these injures at such an early age is a wake up call. It’s making me be more conscious about my body and my health. I have been learning a lot about what my body can and can’t do, what it needs and doesn’t need and my anatomical body structure. I have also been re-evaluating my dancing and my technique, like I said before, I’m learning to make sure that I am working correctly in my body alignment. My experience through this has altered my mind, and matured the way that I dance and improved my decision making with my dancing. I feel better now that I have learned to think about my situation  in a positive way, because even though I am dealing with a back strain now, I can still feel my body and my dancing slowly changing and maturing in such a beneficial way and I have been more hopeful that soon I will get away from this burden of injuries. And one day I will.

MR


 

6 ways I feel good about myself- Makeda Roney

Our Summer intern 16year old Makeda Roney shares 6 ways she make herself feel better. I love this and I think that everyone should make their own.

Once again I was surfing the web, searching different things like loving your body and I came across a site that talked about “6 easy ways to feel good about yourself ”. I found it very interesting because on my last posts I touched on the topic of loving yourself and your body the way it is. On the site their advice was a bit cliché but good, like exercising and doing things that you are good at to make yourself feel good. It gave me the idea to write my own ideas of 6 ways I that I  make myself feel good  based my experiences. So here is my version of 6 ways to feel good about yourself.

 

1.     When you wake up first thing in the morning, think positive thoughts about yourself.

This is pretty cliche, but it thinking positively really brings a whole new perspective, and helps to start your day off wonderfully. I used to wake up each morning and start off my day thinking negatively about my body and my weight because either I ate too much or I did not exercise enough the day before. To get a second opinion about my self, I would go look in the mirror and if I looked like I gained weight compared to the day before, then I would not feel good about my image and my day would be ruined. I ended up having many bad days from this constant morning assessment about my body and my image and I got tired of it  and I wanted to change it. So, I tried thinking positive thoughts, rather than negative ones about myself each morning and it turned my world around. For some reason, when I thought positively about myself each morning as I woke up, I would feel great and sometimes, I didn’t even have to look in the mirror for a second opinion about my image. I started having more good days than bad days each week and it made me a happier person.

 

2.     When you look in the mirror, try to thing positively about your reflection.

Like I said before, when I look in the mirror I automatically judge myself negatively wishing the mirror would show a different reflection, one that is pleasing to me. I would wish I was thinner or had more muscle tone. I would wish my hair was different or had cheek dimples. Being a dancer, I am always standing and dancing in front of the mirror, so I am constantly judging myself, no matter what, and most of the time those judgments would be negative, affecting my dancing poorly and made me self conscious about my body as well as my dancing. When I started taking Bikram yoga (which is also done in front of mirrors), one of my teachers, Adam, would always tell us things in class like “Find something in the mirror that you loved about yourself” or “When you look at yourself in the mirror though out the class, think good thoughts about your image” and that changed my perceptive on how I felt about my image when I looked in the mirror, not only in Bikram yoga, but also in dance class and everyday life. I started to link my image more and more and accept my body for how it is and I found myself being less self-conscious about my body, my image and my dancing.

3.     When you eat, don’t just eat things that taste good, but also eat things that make you feel good.

Stressing yourself out about the foods you eat is not such a great idea because it won’t help to make you feel good. Although, trying to fit some fresh foods into your diet, might help. It does for me! When I eat only cooked foods and don’t eat any fresh foods, I get really drowsy fast, my energy through out the day goes down and when I am sluggish I am more prone to  injuries. So I make sure that I have at least one meal (out of my three meals) that consists of fresh foods and then I feel great. It helps me to have more energy throughout the day, and I get really good sleep therefore I am not so drowsy all the time.

 

4.     Don’t compare yourself to anybody

Everybody is different, unique and beautiful in his or her own way and comparing yourself to other people doesn’t do you any good. It makes you feel bad about yourself. Being a dancer, I am constantly comparing myself to others, wishing I had their feet or their legs or their extension. Its overwhelming for me after a while because I work so hard to try and make my body or my dancing look like another persons, and it never fully succeeds because we are two different people with two different bodies. I have to realize that and just appreciate myself and what I have (body wise). I can still reach my goals, but I have to work with what I have and not feel depressed because my body doesn’t look like another persons.

 

5.     Find hobbies that make you feel good.

Finding hobbies that makes me feel good about myself takes my mind off of things, like my body and my image. The brain is one part of your body that is constantly used and sometimes it needs its rest. I like to go to yoga, to go swimming, listen to music, cook and read. (Dancing is not a hobby of mine, it is my future career, although dancing is another activity that really takes my mind off of things and makes me feel good, but I when I am training I still have to be critical of myself) After doing my hobbies, my brain feels rejuvenated and I can think a lot clearer. It feels good to have a clear mind every once in a while.

6.     Drink lots of water

Along with eating good foods, drinking water consistently is very important because it cleanses the body. During the summer, the only thing I tend to drink is water and all through out summer my body looks and feels good. Drinking water consistently makes me feel good because I am hydrated,  internally I it cleanses my insides,  and externally I don’t get blemishes all over my skin and my body so I look better plus I feel more healthy.

 

Those six points are my personal 6 feel good “dos” that I found out from my own experiences of trying to find ways to feel good about myself. I exercise those six points everyday and they help me tremendously with my self-consciousness. I feel great about myself more and more each day. But just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for everybody, so I hope that my 6 points are really helpful to some of you, they help me. It’s just something to think about

MR


 

Fitting into the Latest Styles

 

I am so pleased to present our Summer intern, Makeda Roney’s first column post. I was very excited to hear her perspective as a teenager and as a dancer. I did not give her a topic instead encouraged her to write about what she felt, what was on her mind, what excited, worried or irritated her. So her she is asking a question that women and men alike ask themselves at the turning of every season, “How do I wear that?” Without further ado I give you Ms. Makeda Roney!

 

 

Fashion and style is one of my secret obsessions (I guess it’s not a secret anymore). I love looking for or buying clothes and shoes online. I also like looking at fashion magazines and fashion TV shows like “What not to wear” on TLC because I like to see what the media has to say about the Latest Fashion trends. The other day I was surfing Teen Vogue’s website and came upon their “Ultimate summer style” column. They had nice ideas and really cute summer clothing that I would love to buy, like different patterned denim shorts, summer dresses, bikini’s and sunglasses,

 

but as I continued to look it got my “thinking box” (aka my brain) going. “What if people have a totally different style? Do they have “ultimate summer style” too? Or is there only one way to look “good?” These fashion magazines show us what they consider is the way to dress, which can be helpful, but what about those of us out there who have different tastes? Or what if what they suggest doesn’t look good on us?

The “Ultimate Summer Style” section on Teen Vogue’s website, also made me think about how many different body types there are, yet fashion feature styles that onlylook good on one type of body; skinny and no curves. What about the rest of us? What about those out there that have all the lovely curves? Why can’t they tell me what latest fashion would look good on me and make me feel good?

Personally I am thin but I have curves and there are some suggested looks that I look really nice in and feel good in but there are many that I try and they just don’t fit right since I am not tall and long. That makes me feel annoyed because I would really like to wear some of those things, but I feel like I wouldn’t look nice in it. So I always end up creating my own look that fits my body type but still is fashionable so it’s my own look.

I like having my own style, but I do have to say that fashion magazines and the style trends from my generation greatly influences how I dress. If there is a style that is not “in”, I probably wouldn’t wear it j because I would feel weird walking around in something nobody wears. I sometimes find myself on the train looking at people and making comments in my head on what each person is wearing. Usually the people that I consider who look “bad” are the people who have a “different” style unlike the trends in fashion magazines or a different way of putting their looks together that I’m not used to because its not “in”. Now, I know that if I am thinking this way, there are probably many people out there thinking the same way about me. Which takes me back to the thinking box: “Are some people pressured to have to dress the way the media tells us to? What if they don’t want to dress that way? Then do they get penalized for having a different style? What happens to their self-esteem? Self-confidence?”

The fashion world has their idea of how everybody should dress and look, which is great, but we are the people buying the clothes. We should find a way to feel good about who we are and what we choose to wear and not be worried about whether we fit into the fads. When I dress, I don’t worry about what is in style. I just worry about what makes me feel good and what looks good on my body. As I said before, the “in style trends” definitely influence how I dress, however I take those trends and fit them into my style, so that I feel good about myself, how I look and my body. Maybe we should consider that the fashion world and media’s idea is only *one idea out of many it’s not the be all end all. Maybe we should open our minds past “Experts” and appreciate l that people who don’t fit into the ideal can look good, and have style and feel great about themselves. I am saying “maybe” because these are only my thoughts and I am not sure if it’s way to go or the key to the solution. I’m just saying, It’s just something to think about.

MR

 

 

My body is not meant to be HIDDEN. Deal with it.~Fluvia Lacerda


You may not know her but Fluvia Lacerda was named Best Plus Commercial Print Model of the Year by Full Figure Fashion Week.

“The fact that I won this award is a major deal and I’m very passionate about my work, mostly because I feel that I represent the body image of many women,” said Lacerda. “I’m not only a healthy woman, but one who wears a size 18 and am confident about it.” ~The Frisky

The Zaftig model with Measurements of: 43-35-48” / 109-89-122 cm. has got it going on and not beacuse she is beautiful but because she reps hard for her set. Here is an excerpt from her blog where she sets the record straight about “skinny jeans”. One of the things that comes across is the fact that she is not only comfortable but confident about in and about her body, and can articulate it.

Fluvia~in her own words…
I’m your typical fiery Leo and as one I suppose a rant would be the ultimate motivator to drag me back to my blog. So bare with me on this rant.

Lucky Magazine big #fail this month. On page 44 the headline for “DEWDROP” also known as “most of us, women with curves” states: ” Your curvy butt and thighs can make skinny jeans a drag. Instead, choose hip-skimming dresses and flashy necklaces that draw the eyes up”.

Now, I personally have an issue with this whole “slimming” claims, primarily because I find it offensively FALSE, insulting to my intelligence and also… well, lets get to the rest of the whys:

1– I’m a BIG chick, with big curves and that’s that. If you intend to feature a fashion story to curvy plus size women do it right, understand the target you’re aiming to, don’t just slap some half assed quality story for the sake of just doing it. We’re no longer willing or wanting to wear baggy clothes (no, really!), which means we don’t have issues with been FAT like past generations did (you do know that plus size consumers are fat right? No, you’re not selling to sizes 8, 10, sorry to burst your bubble…). Curvy plus sized women today KNOW that they can look elegant, cute or sexy, we have finally learned to be happy with ourselves, for real! We actually like flaunting our curves, this hiding business is OLD, boring and annoying.

2–Clothes won’t magically make me look as if I’m 4 sizes smaller, that’s just a fact. I don’t know how many times I have said that out loud. In front of cameras. To designers. At events. At photo shoots. Yes, I won’t shut up about it, get it together people, seriously!! Sadly I see that some still perceive women to be 1– too dumb to buy these tag lines or 2– so blindly obsessed with looking thin that any of those key words will make them run to the shop and buy those clothes? Hmm, yeah, might be the combo of both… not me though, thanks.

You KNOW you want to read the rest so get the rest after the jump!

I think she just may be the Body Hero of the week

Meet My Body My Image’s Summer Intern Makeda Roney!!


Makeda N’wabonkozi Margurose Roney
Last summer I was sweating it out in Bikram (yoga Harlem Holla) and every day that I was there, so was this little Chocolate nugget. I could tell by her comportment that she was dancer, there was a discipline in her practice that I recognized, it was that certain thing that dancers acquire from years in the dance studio and preparing for recitals, learning how dance in lines and patterns. It is an ability to mentally and physically focused, as well as listen and move at the same time. She had the markings. I watched her for a long time before I approached her. I asked her if she would like to participate in a interview about Bikram yoga. I told her that I was interested in her perspective because she was so young, dedicated (she practiced at least 5 times a week) and disciplined. She said yes.

Later she auditioned for the Ailey School’s Junior Division and was awarded a Fellowship, it was then that she became my student. When she took her first Pointe classes with me I was not surprised that her work ethic and focus in the dance studio, as it echoed that of her yoga practice. Unfortunately before Spring term’s end Makeda suffered an injury, she was unable to complete the semester and could not perform. She was unsure if she would be recovered enough to participate in the Ailey School Summer intensive (which is intense) and that is when I thought to ask her to work with me on the blog.

I had come to know her as a deeply thoughtful, and inquisitive young woman with an opinion and a point of view. I applauded the support she lent her fellow dancers when in crisis, and was awed at her self confidence and possession in taking a leadership role amongst her peers when she was essentially the “New Girl”. The duality of our relationship allowed me to have interesting, and sophisticated conversations with her about art, dance, technique, teaching skills, friendship, and of course the body. She was perfect for the position. Thankfully, she is healthy enough to dance this summer but, as driven as she is, she as taken on the internship as well. I am so excited to be working with her!

Makeda with be creating her own posts on MBMI so when you see MR and the foot of a post it was her idea her voice and perspective. She will also be contributing a weekly column to In Your Words I can ‘t wait to hear what she has to say!!

There is an interesting duality to our relationship as I met her in a social setting and only after became her teacher.

Shedding: Is your stress induced weight loss trying to tell you something?

Contributing writer Jessica Danser- Shwartz shares her personal story of how when life gets to stressful the weight start to come off. Sounds like a problem you wish you could have? Wait just one second, when you can’t eat because of worry, stress, grief, or heartbreak those first few pounds might be seem like an inconspicuous benefit, but when you are melancholy, lethargic, and not feeling well because your body is not feed well the way you look is not so important. When the weight loss becomes too significant and you start to look sickly being thin it can make you more worried. Jessica asks the questions why is this happening? and what can she do?

I emerge from the dressing room holding a cute little vintage strapless gown, dejected. “Does it fit?” the salesgirl asks pleasantly. “Too big,” I reply. “Story of my life lately.” “Well,” she jokes, “look on the bright side, you could have the opposite problem!”

There is a part of me which glows at this comment, a part of me which loves being the littlest, the leanest, the thinnest I have ever been. I think this body image comes from my background in ballet– I don’t read fashion mags or follow celebrities, and most of the women I most admire and find beautiful are big-boned, thick, muscular women of color. Yet there still is something validating about my seemingly endless weight loss, like I’ve uncovered a secret that other women would kill for, started to do effortlessly what others ceaselessly struggle to achieve.


Here’s the catch: what is making me lose weight is not some fabulous regimen of diet and exercise or some strange genetic mutation– I’ve lost over 10 lbs (a lot for a person as small as I was to begin with) in the past 4 or 5 months due to stress. I am the opposite of a stress eater, numbing my pain with Cheetos and chocolate. Negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, frustration, and anger kill my appetite, and at times seem to also speed up my metabolism so that whatever I AM eating goes straight through me. This then becomes a vicious cycle wherein my low blood sugar and lack of energy due to not getting enough nutrition to get through the day make me irritable, irrational, and teary. But when I sit down in front of a plate of food my stomach ties up in knots so I can’t get down more than a few mouthfuls.

Even as I secretly preen a little when people comment on my weight, hearing a friend who is giving me a Pilates lesson comment that I am so thin she feels guilty giving me an exercise class is disturbing. I want to break this cycle, get back up to a size 2, stop being able to see the bones in my sternum and having knees so bony they are constantly covered in bruises. I want to stop looking like I’m a kid wearing my mom’s clothes. I want to have a butt again. But how do I make myself eat when I feel too stressed to, make myself cook when I feel too tired to, make myself have real meals instead of munching on fruit and nuts all day when I don’t feel hungry???

My friend Theresa Ruth Howard, who writes the blog My Body My Image about female/dancer body image, says this: “The body is an organism that reacts and response to internal and external situations. Your body is direct reflection of your life circumstances, and right now it is stressful and shedding in a way. I don’t know that you can ‘do’ much about that. You are eating as well and as healthily as you can, when you can but it seems like you might just have to wait for this period to pass. I make the association to your weight loss as a letting go – you in your life might need to let go and surrender. Your body will be restored when your life comes back into balance again. Worrying about it will certainly not help.”

I don’t have a great answer as to what to do about this problem, and as I write this I am hoping that the stresses I have been experiencing will start to die down so I can start to resume a more normal life, eating regimen, and weight. But one thought has occurred to me. As I accept my 103 lb body and its reduced energy level, I am going to try to look at eating as an activity to nurture and care for myself, and make it a priority to take time several times a day to stop what I am doing and feed myself. Rather than trying to force myself to overeat to gain back the pounds I’ve shed, I am going to look at eating the same way I might look at attending a yoga class or getting a massage, a gift to myself and a reminder that I, and my well-being, matter and deserve my attention and care.

I’m going to ignore the subversive voices in my head telling me that my stress-related thinness is a good thing, ignore the opposing voices telling me I no longer look good with fewer curves, and remind myself that my body is a vessel and an instrument– for my art, for my health, and for my soul. And I’m going to try to get back to the JOY of eating, not just the physical necessity, and remind myself that enjoying food, even when there are other things to focus on which seem more pressing, is my right as a human being.

Theresa’s suggestion I might be in the process of shedding things is admittedly a bit terrifying to me– as a person with strong attachments and a bit of a controlling streak, letting go is not my favorite activity. But perhaps what I am beginning to let go of here is the part of me which allows outside circumstances to get me so upset that I neglect my own health and happiness. It seems to me that this is a common occurrence in women– this tendency to focus so much on something external, whether the needs of others or the standards of society, that we cease to listen to the inner voices which alone can guide us to our best selves. It is this powerful voice within me I plan to listen for at my next meal.

Would you like to contribute to My Body My Image?

Every one has a body story, if you would like to share yours just email your submission to theresaruthhoward@mybodymyimage.com and join the discussion!

I want to hear your body issues and how you deal with them
What bugs you about how the media portrays the female image?
What do you think about the fashion industry and the female form?
Have you discovered a way to accept appreciate, and respect your body? well share your tool with others!

It’s all In Your Words!